In July 2022, the High Court found that the UK government’s Net Zero Strategy breached the Climate Change Act 2008 because it didn’t spell out how promised emission cuts could be delivered. The High Court ordered the government to inform parliament, by April 2023, how specific policies would contribute towards emissions reductions.
The UK’s “Energy Security Day”, 30th March 2023, saw publication of a suite of documents which comprise the government’s compliance with that order. The suite of documents map out the government’s proposals to strengthen Britain’s long-term energy security and independence, and to aim for a clean, green future.
“Powering Up Britain” is an over-arching delivery plan which brings together several key strands of work including the Energy Security Plan and the Net Zero Growth Plan – and together forms the UK Government’s plan for the future of energy in the UK.
What were the highlights of the UK’s “Energy Security Day”?
The Energy Security Plan includes several commitments to ensure the UK’s energy independence, security and resilience. These include:
Examining the role of gas storage and other sources of flexibility in ensuring gas security
Delivering energy efficiency upgrades through the Great British Insulation Scheme
Extending the Boiler Upgrade Scheme until 2028
Establishing Great British Nuclear to lead the new nuclear programme
Launching a competitive process to choose the best Small Modular Reactor technologies
Starting the Floating Offshore Wind Manufacturing Investment Scheme, with up to £160 million in port infrastructure investments
Publishing action plans to reduce the development time for transmission network projects and accelerate electricity network connections
Announcing the Track-1 negotiation project list of carbon capture usage and storage (CCUS) projects, launching a process to expand Track-1 clusters, and establishing two additional (Track-2) CCUS clusters
Announcing a shortlist of projects for the first electrolytic hydrogen production allocation round
Announcing the successful applicants for the first competition window for Strands 1 and 2 of the Net Zero Hydrogen Fund (development and capital co-funding) and launching a second competition window
Consulting on revised energy National Policy Statements that emphasize the national need for new energy infrastructure with the goal of speeding up planning processes
Consulting on a new approach to consumer protection in the energy markets.
The Net Zero Growth Plan builds on the government’s commitments to achieve net zero goals as set out in its 2021 Net Zero Strategy, and responds to Chris Skidmore’s independent review of the UK's Net Zero Strategy. Key commitments include:
Publish an addendum to the Resources and Waste Strategy with a plan to achieve near elimination of biodegradable municipal waste going to landfill
Provide up to £20 billion funding for early deployment of CCUS
Consult on Zero Emission Vehicle mandate; publish Low Carbon Fuels Strategy in 2023
Introduce regulatory framework for heat networks; confirm funding for Home Decarbonisation Skills Competition and Heat Training Grant
Consulting on transition planning disclosure requirements for the UK’s largest companies and the UK Green Taxonomy, as well as on steps and interventions needed to support the growth of high integrity voluntary markets and to protect against greenwashing
Consider options for integrating greenhouse gas removals in the UK Emissions Trading Scheme
Publish Biomass Strategy in 2023 outlining role of BECCS in reducing carbon emissions
Take forward next steps in the Review of Electricity Market Arrangements
Mobilising Green Investment (2023 Green Finance Strategy):
Investment roadmap by 2024 to support nature-positive transition for key sectors
At least £75 million investment for net zero-related research
Further investment in circular economy and supporting local areas to unlock green investment opportunities
Sets out how the UK will deliver internationally on its climate and nature goals in the remainder of this decade
Explains the current government portfolio of research and innovation programs to deliver net zero ambitions.
What are the impacts of Energy Security Day and the Powering Up Britain plan on SMEs?
The impacts of UK's "Energy Security Day" on SMEs are indirect but significant. The announcements may not have brought much new policy, but it did tie together various streams of work into a more coordinated plan. It is focused on highlighting the importance of energy security and the role of different stakeholders in ensuring it, including government, industry, and consumers. The discussions and announcements made during the event can lead to policy changes, investments, and innovations in the energy and business sectors, which can ultimately impact - and benefit - SMEs.
For instance, with the government's increased support for renewable energy, it creates more opportunities for SMEs in the renewable energy sector. Similarly, as energy efficiency becomes a priority for industries, SMEs that specialize in providing energy-efficient products and services can benefit, and SMEs should improve their own efficiency. And with increased incentives and grants for energy-related innovations, SMEs with innovative ideas can take advantage of them to grow and expand their businesses.
And increased corporate disclosure requirements that will be delivered following consultation will increase pseudo-regulation for carbon reporting throughout the supply chain.
It may be a slow start, but expect the fall-out from Powering Up Britain to have wide-ranging impacts. But does it go far enough?
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